Tuesday, August 9, 2011

BLOODLINES: Serial Fiction in Horror #2 -- The Crabs by Guy N. Smith

By Bill Lindblad

Authors don't approach every story in the same fashion. Even when an author gravitates to the same stylistic tendencies they will keep in mind the demands of the tale. Sometimes the pacing might be intentionally slow or fast, to highlight character development or action. Some works may focus on verbal content. Some stories skew toward the absurd.

With the Crabs, Guy N. Smith aimed for a cinematic storytelling style, and he succeeds beyond any reasonable expectation. The books resemble nothing so much as horror movie novelizations produced by an experienced pro. They generally follow the morality play aspects of 1970s and 1980s horror movies: evil, venal and criminal characters will die in horrible ways, while the truly innocent will usually survive. They are full of moments where a character is foolishly approaching their demise, the literary equivalents of movie scenes where patrons might yell at an actress not to open a door behind which waits a murderer.

Everything about the series is reminiscent of a cross between 80s slasher films and 1950s giant creature movies. There are crabs, ranging from as small as a cat to as large as a car, driven onto land and mutated by underwater nuclear testing. The crabs have developed intelligence and shells which are virtually invulnerable. No good scientific reason is ever provided - not merely because none could reasonably exist, but because it would interfere with the story. Rather than dealing excessively with biology or material construction, Smith wisely focuses on finding ways to describe amputations in interesting ways.

Smith plays with a different concept for each book: crabs vs. a villainous landowner, crabs vs. the military, crabs on a tourist beach, and even a duel between a heroic action-hero type and a mass murderer who just happens to worship the crabs.

The characters are not fully founded, but neither are they complete caricatures. Call them two-and-a-half dimensional. If you're looking for a B-movie between two covers, the Crabs series is ideal.
The books are: Night of the Crabs, Killer Crabs, Origin of the Crabs, Crabs on the Rampage, Crabs' Moon, and Crabs: the Human Sacrifice.

--Bill Lindblad